A sentence of up to 95 years could be handed down Wednesday for a man with AIDS who pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl.
The girl and her mother gave emotional testimony Tuesday at the sentencing hearing for Matthew Louis Reese. Names of the victim and her family are being withheld because she is a minor and a sexual assault victim.
Reese was 30-years-old when he and the girl began communicating, first online and then in person. She said Reese sweet-talked her.
“He was telling me how beautiful I was,” she said. “I was a freshman and so when boys were saying it, I wasn’t believing it. But he being grown, I assumed it was true.”
She said he talked her into running away together but her family found them and confronted Reese about his real age and criminal history with a mug shot.
“My husband took his phone and put it in his face,” the mother said. “He said, ‘Is this you?’ And he would not look at the phone. He dropped his head, and he said, ‘Yes sir.’”
Once arrested and jailed for the 7-month relationship with a minor, Reese continued writing her.
Love letters from the jail, shown in court, included promises of marriage, children and a home of their own, but also requests for cash.
She wrote back to him until learning in October that she is HIV positive.
“I’m still young,” the girl said. “I don’t want to live life just taking medicine every day because if I forget it, I get paranoid. I feel like it’s going to kill me.”
The girl said she now has a different feeling about the man she thought she loved since her medical issues surfaced.
“There was a point I was wishing the worst on him. I was wishing death on him. I really did. I still wish something bad would happen to him, in a way. I didn’t deserve that. That’s the way I look at it. So, I don’t like him at all.”
The mother told the judge her daughter’s HIV diagnosis and Reese’s conduct damaged the entire family.
“I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. It caused tension in my house. It caused tension with the relationship I have with my sisters, not knowing who to trust.”
The mother was overwhelmed with emotion as she testified and the judge recessed for lunch so she could compose herself.
A medical professional testified late Tuesday that Reese received information in 2006 about his HIV diagnosis and precautions to avoid spreading it to others.
Prosecutors said a final witness Wednesday will be a jail inmate who reports he is now infected with HIV after bunking with Reese.
Reese pleaded guilty Monday to three sexual assault crimes, one carrying a 55-year sentence and the other two 20-year sentences.
Prosecutors are asking the judge to stack the sentences consecutively for a 95-year total sentence instead of allowing Reese to serve them concurrently.